New date set for town election, spending freeze approved

Apr 8, 2020

The Select Board voted in favor of a freeze on non-essential spending by town departments and decided the date for the next annual town election — June 23 — at a meeting on April 7.

Town departments will be notified of the spending freeze in a memo drafted by town officials with Director of Budget and Finance Greg Barnes. The Finance Committee had approved the memo prior to the Select Board meeting.

Non-essential spending includes hiring for permanent positions, noted Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes.

“Looking at the future and the economy, in light of what could happen, we’re not sure how long this sheltering will go on or how long the economy is going to take a dip because of this sheltering,” MacInnes said.

The town election would have been held on April 7, but had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On election day on June 23, nine precincts will be consolidated into just four polling locations, according to the recommendation of Town Clerk Lynn Medeiros. Medeiros said at the meeting that she expects fewer poll workers to be available to run the precincts. 

The polling places — all located in schools —  will each get two precincts that will be overlooked by one warden, except for Potter School, which will have three polling stations.

June 12 is the last day to register to vote. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on election day.

The board also approved the police contract for the next two fiscal years in a narrow 3-2 vote.

Board member John Haran, who voted against the measure, said he could not vote on it in good conscience, saying state reimbursement would be down at least five percent. 

It’s just not the right time to be going through contract negotiations when we’re asking people who are home and out of work to pay more,” he said.

Board member David Tatelbaum voted for the measure, saying it is a fair agreement and that police have more than earned the deal with their work during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve been negotiating in good faith, and they deserve what was negotiated,” he said.

As for the Spring Town Meeting, the Select Board members said they would have a warrant ready for the planned June 2 meeting.